Careers Service


Charity and Voluntary sector

The charity/voluntary or 'third' sector is an important part of the economy. The Government defines the third sector as "non-governmental organisations that are value driven and which principally reinvest their surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. It includes voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals. We also include housing associations within the third sector".

Working in this sector offers a wide range of different opportunities within a not-for-profit environment. Cuts in local authority budgets have had a direct impact on funding for some charities, and all charities are having to compete more for donations. Most entry level vacancies now are for fundraising positions, and the application process is competitive.

Getting in and getting experience

If you are keen on entering this sector you need to be aware that relevant work experience and/or volunteering could boost your chances of being recruited. Entry requirements vary, but recruiters often look for generalist skills from graduates of any degree discipline.

Volunteering can be a good way of showing commitment to the sector but does not guarantee you a job. It definitely helps when applying to smaller charities and in competitive fields.

Tips for getting in:

  • You need to show a high level of knowledge of the organisation, including its values and culture, plus a commitment to the charity's work.
  • Demonstrate you have strong interpersonal and administrative skills.
  • Try applying for a lower level job as a foot in the door; but be willing to commit to it for a decent length of time.
  • Be proactive and make speculative applications to voluntary organisations you may be interested in working for.
  • Part-time positions can also be worth applying for as they may lead to full-time or permanent positions.

Download the full guide

Further information and vacancies